We show our love to our children by giving them rules, by reassuring them. We want them to become responsible citizens. It is by teaching them our rules and our way of life that we teach them self-discipline. Unfortunately, for many, discipline means that we should mention every mistake the child makes, repeat, raise our voice or restrict while there are many more ways of providing a stable environment in which they can grow harmoniously.
What is the difference between consequence and punishment?
In fact, the word “consequence” is not even synonymous with “punishment”. A consequence is the result of a choice or an action. In this sense, there are positive and negative consequences. If I put a lot of effort in preparing for an exam, the consequence will probably be the pride of better grades while if I botched my work the result will be a lot less satisfying.
Although punishment is sometimes necessary and efficient to discourage unwanted behaviour, it is best to use, whenever possible, logical or natural consequences that will make your child more responsible. In some cases, it is not even necessary to use discipline; a simple discussion or gentle reminders may be enough.
Avoid excessive punitive measures, constant criticism and extreme and humiliating punishment (several hours confinement, kneeling in the corner, floor washing, cold showers, etc.) Repeated threats should also be avoided (If you don’t listen, I’ll take away your favourite toy!)
The risks of abusive punitive measures and criticism
- Increased anger and hostility
- Need for revenge
- The feeling of disempowerment (It’s my bad parent’s fault)
- The child tries to trick the parent (not seen = not caught)
- Low self-esteem (I am bad, not nice)
- Repeated confrontations, power game
- Deterioration of the parent/child relationship
- Negative family atmosphere.
Tips and tricks to gain cooperation
- Pick your battles!
The more you criticize, the more they argue! Don’t mention every mistake they make and give way to faulty behaviours that are less important or that are likely to stop by themselves. Remember that you have a good twenty years to raise your children! You can keep some lessons for later...
- Have a pleasant attitude with your children
Have regular moments of fun with them and make sure to give them their daily ration of love and attention.
- Establish clear and consistent rules and routines
Write 5 or 6 rules on a sheet of paper and post them on the wall. Do the same with morning and evening routines. You can use pictures to help children visualize quickly what they have to do. If Jerome takes his bath every night after his TV show, he will soon stop arguing at bath time after a few days!